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Friday, May 17, 2002

dog eat dog

"So it all boils down to snobbery. Poshintang is not haute cuisine. Even in Korea, where a bowl is quite expensive, dog soup exists at the margins, associated with older traditions, both culinary and medical. In its postwar struggle to make a place for itself at the global table, Korea has left poshintang behind. Countryside culture is popular in Seoul, with restaurants serving makkoli (rice liquor) and country-style pancakes, but it is a carefully sanitized version of the countryside, not unlike Cracker Barrel's appropriation of down-home cooking in the United States. The poshintang restaurants, unregulated and unrepentant, provide a glimpse of an older Korea that has somehow managed to survive Japanese colonialism, World War II, the Korean War, several dictatorships, and the latest wave of globalization sweeping Korean culture. I ate poshintang in a small restaurant on a tiny side street in Seoul. Around the corner, on the main thoroughfare, young Koreans favored Dunkin' Donuts, Japanese fast food, and Korean hamburger and pizza joints, all considerably hipper by Seoul standards than something associated with Chinese medicine and questionable slaughtering standards. In the long run, poshintang's greatest enemy is not Brigitte Bardot but Colonel Sanders."